-You should come to our church. It’s pretty great, we’re open minded, drink coffee during the service, wear jeans, and laugh with friends. It’s not like going to your traditional church, where you have to dress up, sing lame hymns, and hear someone complain that you brought your breakfast into the ‘sanctuary.’ Trust us, our church is so cool.-
This is the gist of Church selling I have been seeing lately in these new-fangled, albeit old-fangled, churches that are springing up around the city. The focus of the Church, is what the Church looks and feels like. Their absolutist approach to new over traditional, is appreciable, but pointless. The old style church, tradition, and dress code, and judgment, is not gone. Of course we know it isn’t gone, as we see these old school traditionalist Baptist, Episcopalian, and Methodist Churches on the rise especially in terms of political circles. However, I mean it in a different way. The old style of looking at church is still the same in these new churches. They may dress casual, drink coffee, maybe even have some craft beers over a vegan cheesesteak. But when you think about what they actually accomplish, you begin to realize the difference; it is nothing.
The new style, is just as judgmental as the old style. They base your appreciation for spirituality on your attire, your attitude, and your theology, just in different ways; mostly polarizing the two points of view. The worst part of all this, is that it matters very little in any respect; because they both have entirely missed what it is to be the Church.
These ads I see flying around my doorstep in little whirlwinds, with pizza menus, and Chinese restaurant menus mixed in, piss me right off. Jesus is nowhere to be found. What is the Church to these Churches? Apparently it’s a place to either, experience God in a new, casual, and comfortable way; or a place to worship God in a traditional, and regular way. Either way, I look at these things and just think what the fuck.
The Church is not a place; The Church is not a meeting; The Church is not a building; The Church is not a style; The Church is not a party; The Church is not a political party; and the Church is not a social club. I’ll tell you what I think of the Church when I see these ads. I think the Church is a joke.
Jesus would be/is horrified at how terribly perverted his Church has become. His church is us. Us! There is no building, or attire, or theology, that is a part of the Church. The Church is us, and everything else is extra. No person would deny what I say is true, (at least I hope not) but most of those are a part of a Church that practices these deeds of mis-representation.
Offering plates made of gold, or fake gold, or silver. Giant golden crosses, stained glass windows, high ceilings, statues, towers, brick and mortar, giant staircases, with signs, and huge parking lots.
This is the Church that we go to. And I hate going to Church.
You know what I love. Being Jesus’ Church. A church that meets more than once a week, in many places. A church that rents a space to meet at, or just meets in a public place. A church that pools its resources to give back to its community and help those in need. A church that has no offering plate, or (offering time!). A church that is about becoming Jesus to those in need, and not becoming an icon. A church that focuses on who we act like, not who we look like. A church that focuses on being a community.
That is the church. Jesus clearly taught the principles of basic Christian love; principles that led to life in the Kingdom eternal. Principles of love, and and giving; that were then proliferated through the apostles, specifically Paul, to the early Church. These principles were of love, community, sharing, giving, and helping the needy. None of these principles involved buildings, attire, and especially not Nationalism. None of them involved a specific theology. However, this is what the Church has become. A perversion of a beautiful expression of God’s Love.
It doesn’t have to be.